Many people believe that our current working environment makes us more vulnerable to cyber attack. With most office based businesses operating with working from home or hybrid working policies due to the Covid-19 pandemic, workforces are dispersed and thus there are larger attack surfaces and more points of entry to protect. With that in mind, there has never been a better time to commission a cyber security audit to find out where your weak points are so you can plug the gaps before cyber criminals exploit your vital and confidential business data.
1.Cyber attacks are on the rise
In 2020, it was reported that cyber attacks on small businesses in the UK rose by over 30% and experts have predicted that 2021 and subsequent years will almost certainly be worse. Cyber attacks are on the rise and are being fueled by the increasing number of vulnerabilities exposed by dispersed workforces and flexible working practices. Consider that there is not only an individual’s work computer to protect but also their mobile devices and home laptops that are being used to log in to work systems and networks, creating more endpoints to secure and more routes in for cyber criminals.
2.Threats are becoming more sophisticated
There’s a big argument as to whether cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated or organisations are becoming less vigilant and able to stop even the basic threats. It is quite feasible that existing cyber security measures have been weakened by the changes in infrastructure and working practices brought about during the pandemic and that cyber criminals have adapted quickly to this, responding with attacks on the most vulnerable systems. That said, attacks are also becoming more complex and widespread and featuring more types of attack as we continue to become more reliant on secure and reliable connectivity.
3.Remote workers may be more exposed to threats
With the predicted long term shift to remote working, devices and networks have become more exposed to security threats, which should have led to an increase in cyber security audits to identify areas of potential breach. However, we all know that this doesn’t always happen, particularly at a time when stretched resources have meant less priority on vital IT tasks and maintenance.
When organisations have teams working from home or on a hybrid working model it becomes more difficult to keep all of their systems and software up to date, or to have direct access to the hardware they are using and to be able to monitor it for potential vulnerabilities. This is quite worrying when you consider that the most common cyber attack is generally phishing – emails that look like they come from a credible source (but don’t) and encourage users to open them up and click on a link where they can reveal personal information such as contact details and payment information.
4.Cyber attacks will cost you money
When cyber criminals strike, they usually do so with money on their minds. Financial gain is the main reason for cybercrime and this gain is at your expense if it is a vulnerability they expose in your cyber security. Cyber thieves may use phishing emails, malware or DDoS attacks to enter your computer, system or network and help themselves to your valuable data including login credentials, personal information and customer data. This means they can exploit these credentials for financial gain or hold your system hostage by blocking access until a sum of money is paid – known as ransomware.
5.Smart device usage is on the rise
Smart devices in the workplace present a new area of cyber risk for businesses. Whether it is smart speakers and other connected devices being used in the office or mobile phones, tablets or laptops being used by staff who are working from home, the increase in smart devices means more ways in for cyber criminals and more endpoints to secure. Cyber security audits and policies will therefore have to cover multiple devices and the fact they are often being used in more than one place and therefore on more than one internet connection.
How can a cyber security consultant help?
If these five issues have got you thinking that you need to improve your IT security, then finding a cyber security consultant may be a good first point of call. These experts know about the latest threats and vulnerabilities as well as the technology needed to protect your business. They will also be well versed in and should hold certification such as Cyber Essentials and can therefore help your business to also achieve such accreditation, so that you can prove to your own customers that you take protecting their data seriously.
You might think that as a small business, you don’t need to worry about security as cyber thieves will surely be more interested in targeting larger organisations with more to steal, but this isn’t the case. Small businesses are often at more risk as they are less likely to have robust cyber security policies in place and may be too busy dealing with their day to day activities to take notice of important security alerts.
Using a cyber security consultant can help to protect your business in many ways including:
- Conducting a cyber security audit to highlight vulnerabilities
- Helping you to implement an organisation-wide cyber security policy that can also cover remote and hybrid working as required
- Advising you on and helping you to implement the relevant security measures including firewalls, antivirus software, secure file storage and 2 Factor Authentication (2FA).
- Keeping your software, hardware, systems and networks up to date
- Backing up your data regularly
- Monitoring your network and acting upon any alerts to prevent attack
- Helping you to talk to employees about the importance of security and how to recognise phishing emails
- Helping you to achieve Cyber Essentials certification
With cyber crime on the rise, business leaders should act now by bringing in cyber security consultants to share their knowledge and upskill others in their organisation so that a greater awareness and understanding of cyber threats will help to protect them moving forward.
Matrix IT is an IT company in Hampshire specialising in security services including cyber security audits. More information can be found on their website mtxit.com.